A year after their debut, EVERGLOW – the first-ever K-pop girl group under the Beijing-based agency Yuehua Entertainment – eventually struck gold in 2020. They released two consecutive hits in the forms of EDM banger ‘Dun Dun’ and the synthwave-inspired ‘La Di Da’, and the pressure for another triumphant follow-up was inescapable. Since then, the question on most lips has been: will EVERGLOW be able to outdo themselves yet again? For most parts, the answer is yes.
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While its predecessors instantly grab you with their catchy hooks, ‘First’ – the lead single off their latest single album ‘Last Melody’ – simmers and takes its time to latch itself onto the listener. But once it grows on you, it sticks. Drawing largely from the group’s two main sources of inspiration: trap and EDM, ‘First’ is thoroughly enjoyable and continues to expand the group’s bubbling electro-rap catalogue.
This time though, they’ve returned more passionate, more aggressive and more powerful, their confident voices coming together for a ferocious battle cry. Where they’d previously nonchalantly flipped off naysayers (“Got no time for haters!” they famously once said), EVERGLOW now stare down their opponents with gritted teeth. “You know that I come first,” they declare out loud. “I’m the winner, winner, winner.”
The song is further dramatised by its accompanying music video, a striking visual filled with intense choreography performed at industrial locations. Decked out in matching modern warrior ’fits (think if Lara Croft would don chiffon with slacks), the girl group drive home the message of courage and unity during dark times. “Don’t be deceived by the lie / That there is no light in this world, together we will / Dream a dream that’s never been seen before,” they chant on the empowering chorus.
The second track ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’, however, comes like a whiplash. After a strong opener, the follow-up is unexpectedly twee. It’s an inoffensive and cheeky summer bop meant for flirty beachside hangs, but it breaks the feisty illusion the group had already set up in their first act.
The three-song project then closes out with ‘Please Please’, a sentimental guitar-driven ballad to cap off the group’s attempt at creating a K-pop trifecta. On its own, the song fares well. It’s easy on the ears as Sihyeon (the group’s newly appointed leader) and Mia helm the breathtaking chorus with their feathery vocals, while Yiren’s sweet voice anchors it. It’s a moving ballad well-suited for the arena, where one can imagine the girl group serenading their fans while surrounded by the glow of lightsticks.
Yet as part of a project, the song – and like the two others before it – doesn’t really mesh well with the rest of the tracklist, leaving ‘Last Melody’ a little fractured rather than whole. Individually, each song is great, but grouped together they feel particularly out of tune.
It seems as though ‘Last Melody’ was purposely put together to prove that the group are capable of taking on more than just pounding productions, but the overall result is less satisfying. Moreover, when put next to their far more cohesive mini-album ‘-77.82×78.29’, ‘Last Melody’ almost pales in comparison.
That being said, EVERGLOW are still a young group who are ever-growing, and risk-taking is just a part of their hopefully long-term K-pop adventure. As long as they continue to bring their A-game, the future for the girl group remains bright.